Creative Writing at WVU: Wild, Wonderful Writing

Mary Ann Samyn

Samyn bio

Professor of English
Director, Creative Writing Program
Bolton Professor for Teaching and Mentoring
MFA, University of Virginia, 1996

Office: Colson Hall 237

Tel: 304.293.9730

Fax: 304.293.5380

Email Mary Ann

Read Mary Ann's work.


Courses Taught:

111: Introduction to Creative Writing

131: Poetry and Drama

213: Poetry Workshop

232: Poetry

313: Poetry Workshop

318: Special Topics
(Innovative Writing; Writing for Children; Meaning and Measure)

331: Genre: The Lyric

387: Special Topics in Women’s Literature
(Innovative Women Poets ; Emily Dickinson)

418: Creative Writing Capstone

618: Graduate Poetry Workshop

632: Studies in Poetry
(Contemporary Women Poets; Ashbery/Rich/Wright; The Lyric)

693: Topics: Writing and Visual Art


My Life in Heaven, Oberlin College Press, 2013

The Boom of a Small Cannon, Dancing Girl Press, 2010

Beauty Breaks In, New Issues Press, 2009

Purr, New Issues Press, 2005

Inside the Yellow Dress, New Issues Press, 2001

Captivity Narrative, Ohio State University Press, 1999

Rooms by the Sea, Kent State University Press, 1994


On Purr
“Nuance and variety infuses these pages. This is poetry that is hip, elegant, sorrowful, witty, and new. Don’t read it at your peril.”

Lynn Emanuel

“The dress of Inside the Yellow Dress is both the clothing of childhood, of girlhood in particular, and the garment of language we all put on. And like clothing, the poems are cut as though from cloth: here an armhole, here a sleeve, a cuff, and, finally, space where a body might go. Formally, the poems enact this interest in both fabric and lyric as they move across the page: the mind at work, language as desire and restraint, as loss and memory, as frontier. The page itself as the physical place where language lives. In Samyn’s poems white space is not a surrender, but acknowledgment that this is space otherwise occupied. To be inside the dress is not simply to be wearing it; rather, as the poems say, assert: I live here, within the play and hush of language.”

New Issues


Barrow Street
Colorado Review
Columbia Poetry Review
Court Green
The Journal
Mid-American Review
New Ohio Review
Passages North
Third Coast
and elsewhere.


The FIELD Poetry Prize
Pushcart Prize
Emily Dickinson Prize (Poetry Society of America)
James Wright Poetry Award (Mid-American Review)
The Journal/Ohio State University Press Prize
Adrienne Lee Award (Hubbub)
Vachel Lindsay Prize (Willow Springs)

Awards for Teaching and Research:

The Benedum Award for Scholarly Achievement in the Humanities
The Gaston Caperton Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing
Eberly College Outstanding Teacher Award
WVU Foundation Outstanding Teacher Award
Eberly College Outstanding Researcher Award


Hoyns Fellowship (University of Virginia)
Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs Creative Artist Grant
Glen Arbor Art Association Residency


About Mary Ann on Verse Daily

Inside the Yellow Dress Review on Electronic Poetry Review

Beauty Breaks In Review on 360 Main Street

Small Press Spotlight: On the 9 Divine (best titles of 2009)
on Book Critics

Mary Ann Admires:

Charles Wright, Emily Dickinson, Brenda Hillman, Tom Andrews, Jorie Graham, John Ashbery, Wallace Stevens, Alice Munro, Laura Jensen, Jean Valentine, Christine Garren, Jane Kenyon, Greg Orr, Larissa Szporluk, Robert Hass, Patricia Goedicke, Anne Carson, Sylvia Plath, Louise Bogan, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, Peter Schjeldahl, Laura Kasischke, James Galvin, Tim O’Brien, Alice McDermott, Charles Baxter, Margaret Atwood.

On a Personal Note:

Mary Ann Samyn’s poetry draws on her interest in all things Nancy Drew; her home state of Michigan and its woods and lakes and, yes, malls; artists Joseph Cornell, Eva Hesse, Maya Lin, Lee Bontecou, and Ann Hamilton; her oh-so-brief time as a Girl Scout; and an ever-shifting array of influences, from Emily Dickinson to Thomas Merton, Karen Carpenter to Foo Fighters, from evening to twilight to dusk.